In a new survey, Health Care and the Economy in Two Swing States: A Look at Ohio and Florida, National Public Radio, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health found that the economy, health care and the occupation of Iraq are the top items on people's minds, with seven out of ten saying the economy will have a significant influence on how they will vote for President in November.
Asked to name the most and second most important issues "when you decide how to vote for president," respondents replied:
In Florida, half of those polled say they're struggling not just with one, but with multiple economic problems.
There's the collapse of the housing market and the decline in home values. Also, a credit crunch is making it hard for consumers to borrow their way out of trouble. Then there's triple or quadruple whammy: spiraling fuel and food prices.
In the new poll, more than three-quarters of people in Florida said they were facing at least one serious economic problem; half said they were struggling with three or more. The big ones? It's jobs, gas prices, housing and health care.
Floridians List Serious Problems with the Economy
Percent who say or their family experienced serious problems on account of recent changes in the economy
People in lower- and middle-income groups are suffering most, of course, but the economic problems are affecting higher-income groups as well, according to a spokeswoman for the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The poll found broad similarity in how Ohioans and Floridians rate their economic problems. Both say their inability to get a good job or a raise in pay is a top concern. But in Florida, the collapse in home values ranks higher as an economic problem than in Ohio. And for people in the real estate, banking and construction industries, it's also a jobs issue. ...
More than four in 10 Floridians polled believe that expanding health coverage to all Americans would do a great deal to help fix the country's economic problems. A similar number say the same thing about reducing health care costs.
But according to the poll, the top two things people in Florida say would help the most are stopping American jobs from going overseas and pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq.
For [Dee Moskona, a 47-year-old attorney and mother in Miami], Iraq is an economic issue.
"Absolutely," she says. "Iraq is draining everything. It's a demoralizing, horrible thing that we're stuck with, that we have to live with."
Retail prices last month took their biggest annual leap since May 1991, when gasoline prices skewed the figure upward because of the Gulf War.
Meanwhile, some 2 million Americans face home foreclosures, millions of industrial workers have lost well-paying jobs to cheap labor in the Pacific Rim, consumer confidence is near its all-time low, and pessimism about the economy is at a 27-year low.
Thirty-seven million Americans are living in poverty, 100,000 of them military veterans. By October, 28 million Americans will be receiving Food Stamps, a new record. The stamps, however, don't buy as much as they used to because of soaring food prices. In 2007, 54 million Americans had no health insurance at least part of the year. One in four adults aged 18-34 had no health insurance, and 9% of children under 18 had none.
But, according to PhD economist and supply-side shill Phil Gramm, all we've got going is a "mental recession" on the part of "whiners."
Somebody's mental all right.